I was thinking today of something that happened when I was as kid.
It was late afternoon in 1971 when I looked out the window and saw two young Mormon missionaries headed up our path. My father was an ardent Catholic and a major proponent of “leave us the hell alone” as exemplified by his aggressive phone hang-ups and doors slams directed at chipper sales people. I did not expect it to go well for these stewards of what I saw at the time, as a mysterious foreign and perhaps threatening faith.
To my surprise my father let them in, set down all five of us kids and let the two young men show us a film about their faith, followed by us asking questions. This visit had a big effect on me, and I still think about it all these years later. I don’t remember anything about the movie or the discussion. I just remember the part where my father opened the door, the part where he proved his own faith by living by it, by not being threatened. And how he showed us all how to be respectful, to listen and to learn.
This lesson in open mindfulness and kindness has served me well in the Music Industry. When I first started out it was an industry of big dreams and pushy people looking for a fast way forward. Ironically, the faster things got the less forward everyone else seemed to move. Now it’s faster then ever. Theoretically, you could make a video right now in Zimbabwe and it could go viral in Tokyo in ten minutes. That could have never happened, even ten years ago.
BUT (and there’s always a but) – in 1971, if you lived anywhere near a population base, when you turned on your transistor Radio you where sharing that music in real time with hundreds of thousands of people within a few miles of yourself. The music would waft through homes, diners and cars – like a big collective sno ball. People would talk about it, share it and if they liked it – make it a whole lot bigger. It would roll right across the country gaining momentum and becoming part of our national sound track, a collective cultural reference that still rings in our hearts and minds.
Now, with so many means of distribution and such aggressive forces trying to control them, collectiveness has turned to fragmentation. When a massive Ice Berg breaks into hundreds of little icebergs, navigation becomes more important than observation. And so it is with the Internet. Unlike the radio, there is no one filtering for creativity or worthiness, there is simply you, letting Pandora or Spotify create an algorithm of what you already like. They do the navigation for you and you just let it happen. But here lies the rub, if we only explore what we already know than we never try anything new and we never grow, personally, artistically or as a society.
So now, when I struggle respecting others, and when I forget how to listen or just feel like I just don’t wanta know something, I think about my Dad. And I open the door.